Mar 252012
 
Speed Up Wordpress Before and After

Do you see those “Pingdom Before” speed results? 8.27 seconds load time! When I saw that,“Speed Up WordPress” jumped to the TOP of my to do list for this blog. 8.27 seconds. That’s ridiculous.

It took a few different experiments to speed up wordpress, and after much tweaking and un-tweaking,  I was able to make my blog load a lot faster! As you can see, 704 milliseconds!

The results vary based on time of day and other factors out of my control, but usually, my results are around a second or less.

Here is what I did; the good, the bad, and the ugly! I am telling you what worked and what didn’t work for me. Hopefully, this will save you some time as you try to speed up WordPress loading time for your blog.

Some things to know:

  • I am on shared hosting on HostGator.
  • My theme is Suffusion.
  • My WordPress version is up-to-date.
  • I don’t claim in any way to be a WordPress expert. I am not telling you what to do – I am merely telling you what I did.
  • I will cover the basics of what I did – if you want me to explain something in greater detail, please let me know in the comments.

First, I took a baseline of my blog’s performance. I performed the baseline tests multiple times, on different computers, and in different browsers. I absolutely need the benchmarks to see if my efforts to speed up wordpress succeed.

Speed Up WordPress by Optimizing My Cache

This area took me the longest. I did a LOT of experimenting here. I already had W3 Total Cache installed and my site obviously wasn’t doing so hot.

I took it down and tried WP Super Cache. That really distorted my blog, so I disabled it and tried again to speed up wordpress with W3 Total Cache. I must have had W3TC configured poorly previously so I spent a lot of time trying to figure out the ideal settings for me.

So many of the tutorials online are not an ideal set up for shared hosting like I have on HostGator. Luckily, I found something I could really work from to configure it.  A member of the HostGator support staff posted his W3 Total Cache configuration on his blog at http://projects.pithyphrase.net/w3settings.

I downloaded his config.php file and installed it into my Performance Settings and hoped it would speed up WordPress better than the configuration I had previously. JUST A NOTE: If you decide to install his settings, BE SURE TO CHANGE THE SITEMAP SETTINGS!!

Some key things I think you should know if you are on shared/reseller hosting like I am:

  • Don’t enable database or object caching. These are not ideal settings for shared hosting.
  • Minify on auto didn’t seem to work for me. I had to use it manually.
  • Apparently, eTags aren’t great for shared hosting as well.
It took me a LOT of tries to get my Amazon Cloudfront CDN settings right. I don’t know why I had such a brain cramp here.
I set it to Amazon S3.
Then, I set it up to use S3 and Cloudfront using origin push.
Then, I set it up to use Cloudfront using origin pull.
Then, I set up multiple 6 CNames to work with my CDN.
Then, I went back to using just 1 CName.
GAH!!

I fussed and fussed here, frustrated that I couldn’t find a SIMPLE explanation of how to do this. Finally, I think I have it configured well. This took me WAY longer than it should have.

Later, I also installed a plugin, FV Gravatar Cache, to also cache my gravatars.  I am not sure how much it helps or hurts – but felt it was worth a try.

Speed Up WordPress by Optimizing My Images

I was using a Flickr plugin that allowed me to find and insert images from Flickr into my posts. I also was changing the size of each picture from its original size when I displayed it in my posts.  Not good.  Simple fix: I went to Flickr, downloaded each picture in the size I needed, and uploaded them to my site.

Then, I installed the plugin WP Smush it.  This is a GREAT plugin. Made a big difference on most of my images. In my opinion, this is a MUST HAVE plugin to speed up WordPress.

Another thing I noticed was that on my blog post, 7 Tools To Discover Your Digital Identity, I was calling forth images from Spokeo to illustrate one of my points. Unnecessary.

To fix this, I took a screenshot of that section of my blog post, optimized that image, and used that instead.  That seemed to help with my loading time as well as that post no longer had to call multiple images from Spokeo.

Speed Up WordPress by Optimizing My Plugins

I had fun with this part. I like plugins. I am a bit of a gadget geek and I have to continually practice restraint on my blogs. I simply want every plugin in the world!

While viewing my “waterfalls” on Pingdom, I noticed my social share plugin was a real drag.  I swapped it out for a couple of others that I had used in the past, and didn’t see much of an improvement.

Then I installed the Digg Digg Share Bar now owned by Buffer. It has lazy loading which I love. Doesn’t slow down my site to load anything. Definitely saw an improvement there.

I did have to forfeit a bit of design options. I liked that I could add color to my social share bar and the splash of color it added to my site – but I prefer the ability to speed up WordPress. Also, I liked that me share bar now has Buffer and Pinterest. Nice!

Speed Up WordPress Plugins

Speed Up WordPress Plugins

After that, I found another awesome plugin that I am a BIG fan of. P3 (Plugin Performance Profiler).

With this, I scan my plugins and see how each one affects my site.  On my first scan, I found a few offenders that I was unaware of.

As you can see on the image to the right, my plugins had a major impact on my loading time. 81.8% of my page load time was plugins! There is no way I can get my loading time to around one second if it takes over over a second just to load my plugins.

The plugin with the largest impact was “Viper Proof”. Bummer. I really liked this plugin. Unfortunately, as much as I liked it, it had to go for now.  Maybe a version will come out soon that will be less impacting.

The next plugin doing the most impact was Jetpack plugin from WordPress. I don’t use the benefits of Jetpack to justify having it, so it was deactivated as well. Not worth forfeiting the chance to speed up wordpress.

The third largest was CommentLuv Premium, which there is NO WAY I was getting rid of, so that stayed.  There is NO way I am having a social media focused blog without it. I love to go to ComLuv+ blogs and I love to offer my readers ComLuv+ options in their comments. I personally have to have it.

My fourth largest plugin demand was Akismet. I am experimenting with it activated and deactivated. I may not need it because CommentLuv Premium may discourage spammers for me sufficiently.  At the moment, it is deactivated, though I may turn it back on.

Speed Up WordPress Plugins After

Speed Up WordPress Plugins After

In my first post on this blog, I shared the plugins I am currently using. In my efforts to speed up WordPress since this first post, my plugins have changed a bit.

  • Akismet – DEACTIVATED
  • CommentLuv Premium*
  • Easy WP SEO*
  • Flickr Photo Post – DELETED
  • Google Analytics for WordPress
  • JetPack – DEACTIVATED
  • ManageWP Worker – DELETED
  • TF Social Share – REPLACED WITH DIGG DIGG
  • W3 Total Cache
  • WordPress Editorial Calendar – DELETED
  • WordPress SEO
  • Yet Another Related Posts Plugin – DELETED

Some plugins that have been added since this original setup:

  • Dashboard Luvvers Widget
  • Digg Digg
  • FV Gravatar Cache – To Speed Up WordPress
  • Meta Robot – Deactivated
  • P3 Plugin Performance Profiler – To Speed Up WordPress
  • Social Media Metrics
  • Viper Proof – Deactivated
  • WordPress Ping Optimizer
  • WP-DB Manager – To Speed Up WordPress
  • WP Smush It – To Speed Up WordPress

Speed Up WordPress by Optimizing My Database

I installed WP-DBManager to optimize my database.  I don’t know if this is the best plugin for this or not – but it certainly seemed to do the job for me. I like that I can get a backup of my database. I also like that it will run on a schedule to keep my database tidy.

SPEED UP WORDPRESS BASELINE RESULT CHANGES:

A few things holding me back in my efforts to speed up WordPress/optimize WordPress

Third-party plugins:

  • Some of these don’t have expirations in the headers
  • Some of these don’t have optimized images
  • Some of these don’t have minified files
I don’t know how hard these things are to do, since I don’t program. I just know that most of the things that fail on Page Speed and YSlow are third party program issues.
Things I may tackle later but not now:
  • Cookie free domain
  • Use CSS Sprites for my images
  • Try to get my grades higher in YSlow and Google Page Speed

If I do any of these things later to speed up wordpress I will let you know!

If you have any questions about what I did, please let me know in the comments!! Thank you so much!  Good luck in your efforts to speed up WordPress and I hope this helped! If you have any questions about what I did, please ask them in the comments!

If you appreciate this post, please let me know as well!

Mindy Koch
See My Entire Social Presence – http://xeeme.com/mindykoch

  60 Responses to “Speed Up WordPress From 8 Seconds to 1 Second or Less”

  1. Such a great to discover this article on write time. Thanks a lot dear for writing this all making my work more easier to solve my server problem facing from couple of days. You Rock ((Hugs))

  2. Hi,

    Just wanted to let you know that I love your style of writing …

    Kinda similar to mine :)

  3. All very informative and useful, and things I had not yet considered. Thanks!

  4. Useful article, but difficult to read because your Digg Digg share bar floats right down the middle of your content column. I recommend you re-configure it.

    I’ve only ever had W3 Total Cache slow my sites down, I suppose because it’s not really designed to work with shared hosting. I’ll have to check that settings article out.

    Some performance tools ignore caching when they test your site.

  5. I’m impressed. Bookmarked for future reference

  6. Thank you for the great information!

  7. Wow you are such a star showing us all this and your blog does indeed run extremely smoothly

  8. Mindy,

    I saw your post on XeeMe and just wanted to stop by and say hello! I have never hear of optimizing Wordress. I am glad to get the information because I have two WordPress blogs. Thank you! Have a great day.

    Shelley Novotny
    http://xeeme.com/ShelleyNovotny

  9. Terrific rundown of plugins to speed up your site, Mindy. I’m trying a couple of new ones I found here. I was able to install CSS Sprites but can’t remember how I did it. Sprites work on the Shareholic images, etc. I think it involves some minor coding. Re: third-party images and links not having a expiration set and not having photo dimensions. Sigh. Out of my control.

    Hey, I have combined the Quick Cache free plugin with W3 Cache and they seem to get along. Quick Cache seems to speed up the initial load, all the reader cares about, and loads other stuff later. The article below reviews Quick Cache.

  10. Thanks for sharing, My host company took my site down last week as it was using too much bandwith on a a shared server. It is 1000 pages plus (not posts – pages) and it was the plugins and widgets that were causing the problems. I WISH I had this as a check list then!

    You have deactived Akismet?!?!??!?!!?!?!?

    I can’t see you are using anything in its place?

    • I have heard of this happening with people who have W3TC and are caching the database and objects. Fills up the bandwidth quite a bit over time!

      CommentLuv has a little check box that you have to tick to make a comment. I don’t really get much comment spam. I may turn Akismet off if that changes – but so far, my GASP part of CommentLuv Premium seems to be doing the job!

  11. While I was already getting pretty good ratings of 90+/100 on pingodm I’m trying that FV Gravatar and P3 Profiler .. nice plugins! Users not on CDN should also try Cloudflare, you’ll get some rating gains also from that

    • I bet you really like the P3 Profiler! It is a fun little gadget with lots of useful information! Cloudflare certainly is great and it is so easy to setup in W3TC!

  12. Mindy, you have improved dramatically since the first posts on this blog. This is Awesome, a top notch article. Maybe WordPress optimization is something you should consider specializing in. Load Speed also improves your position in SERPs. Speed optimization is one thing I’ve put off on my latest project,

    Your Digg Digg bar is in the middle of the page though. It blocks the article, and it’s so distracting I didn’t notice the load speed and had trouble reading the actual article.

    • Thanks Adam – I appreciate the feedback!

      That crazy digg digg bar! I thought I had moved it over enough. Apparently, the only browser it views correctly in is Chrome. In FF and IE it isn’t in the correct location. I tried to compensate by moving it over even further, but apparently it failed.

      I told someone who knows the CEO of Buffer and he contacted the CEO there and let him know that their bar is wonky! I hope they fix it ASAP!

      • The Smush it plugin screwed up the images on one of my themes too. I know you don’t post extremely often here, but I was having trouble with images in every article I posted. They weren’t uploading very well, they were showing as 0×0 size, after getting them on the blog the featured image was holding the full image size, which was exposing itself in the unPrev related posts slider – it was making it huge lol.

        I ran that thing for months, and just deleted it because Amazon Cloudfront messed up some edited CSS I had installed a while back. When the images started uploading correctly again I could have kicked my own ass haha. Just goes to show that what works on one theme doesn’t always work on all of them. If the Smush it plugin has altered the process of uploading files, I would recommend deleting it because every image you upload will be optimized by the plugin, and if you ever add another plugin that works in tandem with the images, it could cause major problems.

        This is still one of the best blog posts I’ve saw this year Mindy. Great work here!

  13. I’m a big user of wp and it is very useful to me learn these tips. Thanks for this well researched article. I’m amazed at how much effort you put to make your articles. How do you do it? How much times does it take to write an article like this?

  14. I use wordpress.com and blogger.com for my 2 blogs, so I don’t think that I can do any of the tips. GREAT info for people with self hosted blogs!

  15. This is such great information! Thanks, Mindy. Am a huge fan of wordpress. Am going to goo back through this post and try some of your suggestions. Thanks again!

  16. Very cool stuff – thanks a lot for sharing this. I hope it’s OK to syndicate this post on the XeeMe blog as well.
    http://XeeMe.com/AxelS

  17. Mindy, this is fantastic. I am bookmarking this for future reference. So timely, I have several blogs I am managing that take forever to load, and I see I may have some of the same plugin issues that you did. First thing I am doing is installing Smushit. I have that one one blog and it is great. Don’t know why I didn’t think to put it on the others. Thanks again!

  18. Very useful step-by-step guide. Thank you. Do you think speed can have an influence on ranking in search engines?

  19. Such valuable information all in one place! I’m definitely going to study what you wrote and apply it. Thanks!

  20. Great article Mindy, I really liked the idea of speeding up your blog, I don’t know enough about this either..Thanks for sharing. I got rid of Comment Luv, it just never worked on my blog for some reason, even after paying for it.

    • Nothing is for everyone that is for sure, Mari-Lyn! I have trusted social media friends who swear by livefyre and others by disqus and others by FB comments! Even if you don’t use it on your site though, you should still have a “comluv” account that you can use on sites like mine so we can link back to your property and get your last post. :)

  21. Hi Mindy,

    You’ve certainly saved me a lot of “experimenting time” by listing out what you’ve done to speed up your blog. I will have time to do this in two weeks and I have a few sites to do this to, so I will be brain-fried by the end of it all I’m sure! BTW< I like your theme as I use the same one, Suffusion–it's so AWESOME! So many options, I haven't even gotten deep into all that can be done with it!

    • I certainly haven’t done anything with Suffusion that I can! I am probably running the plainest version there is!! :D I love your site though – such GREAT info!! Seriously – I am buying your ebook this week! It is part of my “spring cleaning my health” plan!

  22. This seems an excellent guide as speed of all those websites and blog sites now matters. One should always make sure that their website or blog is accessible with least time period in order to increase end user experience. Nowadays Google even recommends and considers speed of the page for their SERP placement.

  23. Thanks for the great article Mindy! I was just checking google webmaster and a lot of mys wp sites are slow.

  24. Great post Mindy.

    I have been battling with the speed issue for a long time and this was one great detailed post that I needed.
    I love the P3 plugin. I just installed it and am playing around with it. Sadly, cluv premium seems to be my #1 offender.

    Thanks again Mindy.

    • At the moment, Cluv is my biggest as well. Someone will always be the biggest :) But I am happy with my plugins time overall. What is your plugin load time and impact?

  25. I need to seriously take a look at this. I was having speed issues just the other day. Now that I think of it I might have missed a cache setting.

  26. Hi Mindy,

    You have gone to a great deal of work to speed up your page. I commend you on your patience and determination.

    I almost fell off my chair when I saw the 8.27 sec. load time before optimization. That is either a very bad script or plugin of some sort or a hosting environment that provides few CPU resources as is the case in many overloaded shared hosting environments.

    Upon further examination I saw there are about 290 domains located on the shared server your site resides on. Depending on the server specs and the type of sites, this could be far too many or an acceptable amount.

    So I am inclined to think that some plugin must have been the main cause of your issues. Combine this with limitations that most shared hosts (and rightly so) impose upon PHP/MySQL connections and you can get a very slow to respond website.

    Of course there a dozens of reasons a site could be slow that have nothing at all to do with its hosting environment or its backend.

    My blog loads in an average of about 350ms – about 225ms or so from North American and about 500ms from Europe. Most times that is. Like all other websites internet congestion and other issues outside of my control can cause connection and speed issues.

    I have done zero optimization other than I use LiteSpeed Server, Cloud/Linux virtualization and optimize my PHP.INI file and make sure that all scripts I run are fully optimized. I benchmark all scripts before I use them and optimize them accordingly when needed. I can tell you with 100% certainty that this works and can make all the difference.

    In addition I am on a very powerful 16 thread server with 16GB of RAM and only 150 sites on it.

    You have provided a great post here for smaller website owners that are on a budget and I think that's great!

  27. When I get home from work I’m defiantly going to consider using some of these tips to speed my blogs up I notice that there a bit sluggish and sometimes take awhile to load which shouldn’t be because my hosting is really good. Hopefully I can reduce the time for loading by a few seconds.

  28. It is great to have the opportunity to read a good quality article with useful information on topics that plenty are interested on especially like this information. There are times that WordPress loads very slow and now I know to make this more faster. Thanks a lot for sharing this!

  29. Great article, and discovered that my blog is not THAT slow and will be utilizing your tips to make it even faster. You are so very knowledgeable and helpful. Thank you very much!!!

    Love,
    Me

  30. The biggest benefit by far in addition to the above steps you outlined is to use a CDN service like MaxCDN or even free Cloudflare which can greatly help by serving your static content from a cache in a cloud closer to the reader. MaxCDN was much faster for me than Amazon S3 and Cloudflare, but isn’t free, they have a startup of $39 for 1TB and I have been using it for about 1 year on the same 1TB, so really for a smaller blog (50k visits per month or less, it is only about $50 1x per year or so).

  31. I�m a fresh viewer (found you via BlogCastFM) and I�m finding out a great deal through your site. It�s your blog which has helped me to modify my own state of mind on independent writing being a business. This write-up is very valuable because as somebody on a limited spending budget, I enjoy to find means to learn and strengthen my craft for free.

  32. WOW!! What A great article, I stumbled on to your site by accident…..Glad I did. So much great information. I had no clue about the (p3) plug-in. I did not realize how much my plug-ins were slowing my site down. I have learned so much just from this 1 article just wanted to give you a quick thanks for making this info available….KEEP UP THE GREAT WORK :) Kind Regards, Tim Reeves

  33. Thank you for pointing out the sitemap thing in the W3 Total Cache config. It actually explained why I’d seen so many W3 Total Cache hits against my sitemap. I had wondered at it, but never considered that config as the cause. I actually changed the setting to ” (empty) on my downloadable config, which hopefully will help avoid this problem in the future.

  34. Wow, great share on how to speed up your site! I use some of them like W3 total cache and digg digg. I don’t know about WP-DB Manager, P3 Plugin Performance Profiler and, FV Gravatar Cache. I would love to implement them on my site and see its results now.

    Again, thank you for your share! :)

  35. “not a WordPress expert” – going thru this optimize process you’ll on the right track to become one… hehe…

  36. Being new to WordPress, this article as well as the comments below somehow give me an idea on what to do on the optimization. I would be implementing these guidelines when I will be putting up my wordpress blog soon.

  37. Nice article, my blog is also suffering with slow loading speed, I am going to try all things shown in this post hope they will work for me also.
    Thanks for sharing.

  38. Normally I do not go through publish on blogs and forums, on the other hand want to state that this kind of write-up very motivated my family to consider and do it! Ones crafting flavor have been shocked everyone.. Sprachschule Frankfurt Thanks, very nice article.

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